What is "Downton Abbey" about?


Quick Answer

Period drama "Downton Abbey" focuses on the upper class Crawley family, who lives in the country house known by the series' title, and its members' efforts to maintain their lifestyle and worldview in the midst of rapidly changing social norms. The first season was set in 1912, with consecutive seasons spanning the early 1920s.

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Full Answer

The sinking of the Titanic, which occurred in 1912, figures into the plot of the series' pilot, when Robert Crawley, known as the Earl of Grantham, learns his heir and his heir's son died in the mishap. This upsets the Crawleys' succession plans, putting the future of the country estate and the Crawley legacy in tumult. There are no Crawley sons; Robert and his American wife Cora have three daughters. For a time, it appears relative Matthew Crawley will serve as heir, but fate interferes in the form of a fatal car wreck.

The show focuses as much on the Crawley family's servants, of which there are many. These include an Irish-born chauffeur who believes the British aristocracy is due to crumble, a new valet with a limp and a mysterious past, and another valet and lady's maid who are constantly plotting to upstage their rivals among the staff.

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